Hail storms can strike without much warning, leaving you with little time to react. Being prepared in advance — and knowing what to do — can help you stay safe and keep damage to a minimum. Consider signing up for local weather alerts, which deliver warnings when hail storms are approaching your area.
What Is Hail?
Hail is a type of solid precipitation, distinct from, but often confused with sleet. Sleet generally falls in colder temperatures while hail growth is inhibited at very cold temperatures. Hail creation is possible within thunderstorms and is formed when water vapor in updrafts reaches a freezing point. Ice then forms and is suspended in the air by updrafts and falls down to be coated by water again. This process can occur over and over adding many layers to the hailstone. Hailstones can be as small as peas or as large as softballs, and the larger ones can cause injury and serious damage.* The average hailstorm lasts only five minutes, but the damage hailstorms cause totals about $1 billion a year, according to the National Weather Service.
How to Minimize Hail Damage
Large hail can shatter windows. Closing the drapes, blinds or window shades can help prevent the wind from blowing broken glass into your home or buildings.
Whenever possible, park your vehicles inside a garage or under a carport.
Patio and lawn furniture can be dented, broken or even shattered by hail. Move these items indoors or under a covered area when not in use.
If you have plans to replace the roof covering on your home or business, consider using impact-resistant material if you live in a hail-prone area. For guidance on making the right choices for roof coverings, visit the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety website.
When thinking of the cause of a kitchen fire, it is common to think of cooking. But not all kitchen fires start because of cooking hazards. Non-cooking related fires commonly involve refrigerators, freezers or dishwashers. The following tips can help prevent non-cooking related fires from occurring in your kitchen.
Plug all kitchen appliances, including microwaves, toasters and coffee makers, directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord as it can overheat and cause a fire.
Use the right outlet for the right appliance. For larger appliances, such as ovens and refrigerators, be sure to only use properly grounded outlets with circuits that match the rating plate on the appliance. If you have older 2-prong outlets in other locations of your kitchen, have a qualified electrician replace it with a properly grounded 3-prong outlet. Do not use an adapter.
Replace any power cords that become frayed or otherwise damaged. Never use a cord that shows cracks or other damage.
When moving kitchen appliances, be aware of power cords. Rolling over or pinching power cords can damage them.
Unplug small appliances when not in use.
Keep your stove and oven clean. Built up food splatter or grease can later ignite when the stove or oven is turned on for cooking.
Check and clean stove hoods and filters regularly. If your stove hood vents externally, make sure insects or birds do not build nests or otherwise impede air flow through it.
Never use a gas or propane oven to heat your home. Not only is this a fire hazard, but it can also give off toxic gases.
What to Do If a Kitchen Fire Flares Up
By exercising caution at all times in your kitchen, you can help reduce the risk of a kitchen fire. But if a fire does flare up, you need to be prepared.
Your safety should always come first. If you are unsure about whether it is safe to fight the fire, leave the scene, call 911 for help, and let the fire department control the fire.
If a small fire flares up and you are going to attempt to extinguish it, call 911 for help first. A fire may grow out of control more quickly than you anticipate. It is safer to have help already on the way.
Spring Break is almost here and many of us will hit the air or roadway. Travelers and tourists are a dream for thieves. They typically carry plenty of cash and valuables. They often have smartphones full of personal information. And, they can easily get caught up in the sights and forget to be aware of their surroundings.
While the threat of losing money, jewelry or a camera is bad enough, there’s also the risk of identity theft. Each year, criminal activity related to identity fraud totals $15 billion in the U.S. alone. The cost is more than financial. It can be maddening to try and get everything back in order.
That’s why it’s important to protect yourself, even when you’re on the go. Here are seven ways to do just that, from USA Today, the U.S. Justice Department and even the U.S. Department of State.
Don’t be scared of cash. You don’t want to carry around too much, of course, because it’s not replaceable. But, unlike credit cards, having money stolen won’t add to your risk of identity theft. You can still use cards, particularly to take advantage of your card’s purchase protection when buying expensive items. Just think about whether the merchant or restaurant is likely to have a secure system. If you do prefer cards over cash, don’t take every single card you own, and do check your statements carefully when you return.
Watch where you get and keep cash. Use ATMs affiliated with banks you know, if at all possible. Your travel partner should stand behind you to keep others from viewing your PIN. Watch for “skimmers,” too — thieves install these devices on legitimate ATMs and other card readers to capture your information, and they’re hard to spot. If anything looks different about where you swipe your card, avoid that machine. And, once you have your cash, keep it somewhere secure, such as in a front, or hidden pocket with a zipper, or a bag you can wear across your body.
Lock your smartphone and computer. Our phones and computers are full of personal information, and auto-login features for apps, including financial ones, can be a bonanza for thieves who gain access. Lock your devices with a code only you know, and don’t make it obvious, like “1234.” Also, some phones have a remote-shutdown feature, so you can wipe its contents if it’s lost. Enable this at home, before leaving for your trip.
Be careful with wireless. Public wi-fi access is convenient, and dangerous. Others on the same free or shared network may be able to see the data, such as passwords and credit card numbers, you transmit. Avoid logging in to financial websites, if possible. If not, stick to encrypted websites (with “https” at the beginning) and log out after each session. Update your password the next time you’re on a secure network.
Always stay alert. When you’re in public, beware of crowds, disturbances or people “accidentally” bumping into you. These are common ways pickpockets steal items without being detected. Don’t sleep while using public transportation, even long train or bus rides. And, each place you go, locate the nearest exit so you can escape a dangerous situation if needed.
Use the hotel safe. They aren’t perfect, but storing your passport and other important things in the safe while you’re out and about is far better than leaving them out in your room. It is best to leave some things behind while you’re exploring. Using your passport everywhere for identification, for example, puts you at risk of losing it.
Don’t forget the home front. While you’re away, burglars could gain access to the personal information you have at home. Stop your mail and newspaper delivery, or arrange for a neighbor to pick it up daily. Leave a few lights on or put them on timers so it looks like someone’s home. And, keep your important documents in a secure place. A home safe is great, or you could even consider a safe-deposit box, if necessary.
By taking just a few precautions, you can increase the likelihood that your trip will be enjoyable, or that it at least won’t end in a financial disaster.
From our offices in Weatherford, Texas, we serve clients anywhere in the State of Texas, though the following areas are geographically closest to us: the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Johnson, Parker and Hood and the cities of Arlington, Bedford, Brock, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Decatur, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Granbury, Grapevine, Hurst, Keller, Mansfield, Millsap, Mineral Wells, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Watauga, Weatherford, and White Settlement.